Ilkeston were given a gentle reminder of the tough task they face to stay up as they were beaten 2-0 at home by Hednesford Town on Tuesday night.
Saturday’s win at home to Sutton Coldfield had given Robins fans hope that a corner was being turned, but on this occasion they again lacked the attacking combinations and prowess to really hurt their opponents.
A mistake led to the first Hednesford goal and their second came in the dying seconds but in truth the Pitmen edged this encounter and deserved the points, although for much of the game there wasn’t a great deal between the teams.
All in all it means Ilkeston’s uphill struggles continue and relegation remains the most likely outcome.
Dan Brennan had the first chance of note, the Hednesford defender heading wide from a corner six minutes in.
Brennan’s partner at centre-back, Nat Brown, then also nearly scored but at the wrong end, his mis-hit clearance looping over the keeper but just wide.
Ben Morris’s low shot was gathered by keeper Dan Crane on 14 minutes as the hosts looked confident going forward.
Opportunities dried up for a while as both sides aimed to assert authority, the Robins snuffing out most danger until Dan Glover shot straight at Dale Eve when he really should have scored in the 34th minute.
That was that until half-time but it took just two minutes for the opening goal to arrive in the second period.
It was a calamity for the Robins, Jaylon Bather’s back pass mis-hit and Tom Thorley challenging Eve to the ball and winning the tackle that saw the ball then roll into the net.
George Washbourne’s free-kick from out wide had to be pushed over by Eve soon afterwards as the visitors got more control on the game.
Sub Anthony Dwyer was introduced by Shaun Goater on 65 minutes and nearly had an immediate impact, pouncing on a mistake to run in on goal but his Crane pushed away his low shot.
Glover hooked a shot wide as the Pitmen looked most likely to score next, Brandon Clarke at the other end flashing a volley just too high with nine minutes left.
Reece Horne entered the fray late on and quickly saw a low shot saved by Crane, but the game was then wrapped up in the dying seconds as Thorley ran in on goal to slot past Eve and secure the points.
Ilkeston: 1 Dale Eve, 2 Max Thornberry, 3 Charlie Scanlon, 4 Dante Leverock, 5 Matt Baker (c), 6 Jaylon Bather, 7 Luis Rose, 8 Danny Gordon, 9 Dexter Atkinson (Reece Horne 87), 10 Ben Morris (Anthony Dwyer 65), 11 Brandon Clarke.
Subs not used: Ryan Head, Tom Gamblen, Jamie Hannis
Hednesford: 1 Dan Crane, 2 Kyle Haynes, 3 Darren Campion, 4 Stuart McNaught, 5 Nat Brown, 6 Dan Brennan, 7 George Washbourne (Callum Roberts 89(, 8 Tom Thorley (c), 9 Dan Glover (Ryan Nesbitt 90), 10 Tony Clarke, 11 David McDermott (Lewis Wright 66)
Subs not used: Lloyd Ransome, Marvin Robinson
Ref: Elliott Swallow
Star Robin: Matt Baker